You know how I like to mark all the major festivals (Administrative Professionals’ Day and International Mother Language Day are obvious highlights), so it would be remiss of me to let today pass without talking about lurve. And specifically, of course, lurve and laundering. There are no depths to which fraudsters will not stoop to part the innocent from their money, and they are joined down there in the mire by launderers who dupe people into helping them. Yes, “romance fraud” is on the increase.
A typical victim is Jill, who tells her story on the worryingly entertaining website Hoax-Slayer (“Debunking email hoaxes and exposing Internet scams since 2003!”): “In April of 2013, I received a message on Facebook from a man named Giovanni. I hesitated to reply because I had never responded to a man online before [but] he just swept me off my feet. He was just so charming and said the most beautiful things, actually everything a woman loves to hear. We talked every day, and he told me that his wife had died of breast cancer and that he had a daughter, Jennifer, who was 13 years old [and who] was all he had and all he lived for until he met me. He told me that his daughter needed a mother figure in her life, and I was so excited because I wasn’t able to ever have children. Our conversations went on for about two months and then I got a phone call from him one day telling me that him and his daughter were stuck in China because they had gotten beat up and robbed the night before and he needed some money to pay for the hospital bills because Jennifer was hurt badly. I told him I didn’t have any money to send, and I wouldn’t send it if I did. I do not give men money especially a man I have never met in person. That didn’t stop him from sending me emails and messages online, so like a fool, I thought he really cared for me. He would tell me how much in love he was with me and that when he returned to the US he wanted us to be together forever. This went on for six months. He now said he was in Malaysia and that he would have women send me money to send to him so he could come back home to the States. The last straw for me was when he had someone send me a fraudulent cheque for $5,890 and told me to deposit it into my account and withdraw the money and send it to him by Western Union. I wasn’t about to deposit it into my account so I took it to the same bank the cheque was written on, and they told me it was fraudulent so I told them to keep it and send it to their fraud department, which they did.”
Jill was lucky in that she didn’t actually send any money to Giovanni Il Rospo (that’s Italian for toad), or indeed help him to launder the proceeds of who knows what criminality. But she was emotionally abused and led a merry dance; as she says: “He ended up truly breaking my heart, so much so that I am leery of any relationship now – I am so very embarrassed that a woman of my age was so easily duped.” And many, many other people (many more I suspect than will ever report their experience) do send money or launder funds for other Giovannis. So as you tuck into your oysters and chocolates tonight, watch out for those rospos – the slimy little devils are everywhere. Baci!